Havens Reserve Merlot 2003
With a full two years bottle aging before release, the 2003 Merlot Carneros has already developed into a distinctive wine: black fruits, hints of allspice, mace and anise and a broad-but-firm backbone. This wine shows off 2003's best character, the firm structure of late-harvested Carneros fruit, and the complexity that comes from Merlot planted in a superior site. It should age well for another five to eight years from release, not simply surviving, but developing more intricate texture and exotic aroma.
Havens Wine Cellars is located just south of Yountville and a short quieting drive off Highway 29, Napa Valley’s main winery tour route. The pastoral 10-acre site located on the Mayacamas benchland includes a 7½ acre vineyard of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah grapes lovingly tended.
Our own estate vineyard on Hoffman Lane, planted to Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Syrah, is an interesting variation on the south Napa Valley vineyard characteristics we value so much. First, we are actually in a little warmer spot here than many of our other vineyards because we sit close to the Mayacamas foothills, slightly in their lee from the prevailing south wind. This means that our daily cooling from the marine airflow is a bit delayed, keeping us warmer for an hour or two longer than vineyards even a few miles east. On the other hand, since we sit on the east-facing slope, we don’t get the full heat of the afternoon sun like vineyards just across the Valley, five miles away in the Stags Leap District. All this combines to define what is called the “diurnal range,” or the daily swing of temperature and wind, and we think it is the single most important factor in a vineyard’s terroir. Our soils here on Hoffman Lane are deep, but include a lot of gravel in the clay loam, and thus they can dry out quickly without drip irrigation. We are still learning the subtleties of farming this site, but have found Syrah here especially well-adapted to the place.
Known for elegant wines that combine power and finesse, Carneros is set in the rolling hills that straddle the southernmost parts of both Sonoma and Napa counties. The cooling winds from the abutting San Pablo Bay, combined with lots of midday California sunshine, create an ideal environment for producing wines with a perfect balance of crisp acidity and well-ripened fruit.